Thai school calendar: Academic year and holidays in Thailand

PHOTO: Freepik

Moving to Thailand involves jumping over countless hurdles, from adjusting to a new culture and food to figuring out how the plug adapters work. If you are a parent, add another level of complexity to it — understanding the local education system. And one of the first things you need to know when it comes to the education system is the Thai school calendar.

Right, you may be curious. Is it the same as in your home country? Does school start in September? When can you plan family holidays? Fair enough, let’s get these questions answered.

When does school start in Thailand?

Thai school calendar: Academic year and holidays in Thailand | News by Thaiger
PHOTO: By prostooleh via Freepik

The timing of the school year in Thailand, unlike the standard European, Australian, or North American calendars, is heavily influenced by the weather. The academic year starts around mid-May as the heavens open for the rainy season and concludes with the onset of the hot season in early March.

This Thai version of the back-to-school season commences with the first semester running from the start of May to the beginning of October. After a short break, classes resume in early November, marking the start of the second semester. The academic year wraps up with final exams in late February or early March.

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Why this unique structure? Well, March and April, you see, are rather warm – and by warm, we mean temperatures tipping the scales between 36°C – 44°C. Air conditioning in classrooms is not as universal as you may think, so for the comfort and productivity of students, the academic year is arranged to avoid these periods of intense heat.

There are, however, outliers to this system. Private schools often have their own academic calendars. Therefore, it’s a smart move to get in touch with the school where you intend to enrol your children to get the precise details.

What about the academic year for universities in Thailand?

Thai school calendar: Academic year and holidays in Thailand | News by Thaiger
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In Thailand, the university academic year is mostly divided into semesters, similar to schools. The first semester starts in June and ends in October. Then, after a short break, the second semester begins in mid-November and ends in mid-March of the following year.

However, this structure can sometimes vary. Many Thai universities operate on a detailed schedule for each semester. For example, in the first semester, classes often start in August. Mid-term exams are usually scheduled between September and October, with final exams taking place in December.

When the second semester rolls around in January, students prepare for mid-term exams in March and then for final exams in May. Some universities also offer third semesters or summer sessions. These sessions traditionally start in June, with classes and exams concluding in July.

For universities running a trimester system, the arrangements differ slightly. The first trimester begins in August, with mid-term exams in September and October and finals in November. The second trimester generally starts in December, with midterms in January and finals wrapping up in March. Lastly, the third trimester usually commences in April, ending with exams in July.

How many school holidays are there in Thailand?

Thai School Calendar
PHOTO: Freepik

In Thai school calendar, students typically enjoy two main school holidays in a year. The first is a 6 to 8-week break between the end of March and the middle of May. Another break rolls around in October, lasting about 2 to 3 weeks, though this can vary depending on the school and location.

As mentioned above, private schools, especially international schools, usually follow their own calendars, which closely resemble the Western timetable. Holidays in these schools encompass a long summer break in July and August, usually 5 weeks, and two-week breaks during both Christmas and Easter.

In addition to these school-specific holidays, Thailand also observes over 23 public holidays throughout the year on which students have the day off. These public holidays are mostly grounded in the nation’s Buddhist culture and beliefs, with a few exceptions, like Western New Year. No matter the type of school – private or public – all Thai schools close for these public holidays.

When is graduation day in Thailand?

Thai school calendar: Academic year and holidays in Thailand | News by Thaiger
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In Thailand, the end of the school year in February isn’t just about exams. It’s also the time when students graduate. And when it comes to graduation, Thai schools know how to put on a show!

Graduation isn’t just a day in Thailand; it’s a huge event! Schools go all out, decking the halls and classrooms, while the young students and sometimes the teachers chip in with their own gifts for the soon-to-be graduates. It’s not uncommon to see a cascade of flowers or even a mountain of cuddly toys in honour of the big day.

But the festivities don’t end there. Some schools go the extra mile and organise special performances. Younger students might sing songs or perform dances they’ve practised for days, all ready to give a grand send-off to their graduating peers.

The schools often set up photo booths or decorate areas where students can snap a picture. Decked out in their graduation gowns and surrounded by balloons and banners, the students get a chance to make some lasting memories.

For those who want to teach in Thailand

Thai school calendar: Academic year and holidays in Thailand | News by Thaiger
PHOTO: Freepik

If you’re interested in teaching in Thailand, it’s good to know how the school year works. Again, the academic year in public school starts in May and finishes in February. There’s also a break in the middle of the semester from late September to mid-October.

Job hunting? Schools usually hire new teachers in February and March. For the university roles, they often do their hiring in early August.

Also, keep in mind that in some parts of Thailand, the local rice planting and harvesting seasons affect the school schedule. Schools in these areas often close for a short time during these periods.

So, you now know all about the Thai school calendar! Whether you’re a parent who wants to enrol their children in a Thai school or planning to teach here, make sure you’ve got all these dates tucked up your sleeve. Having this info at the ready will definitely help you stay a step ahead and plan around the school year with ease.

Early YearsInternational EducationTeaching in ThailandUniversities

Cita Catellya

Cita Catellya is a journalist and writer who covers a range of topics from medical and property to leisure and tourism. Her career began as a copywriter 5 years ago, where she worked with several brands in Indonesia to help them increase their online presence. Cita writes in both English and her native Bahasa Indonesia

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